My experience as a Wildside blogger for SeaWorld San Antonio has been one of the best blogger to brand relationships that I have had. It’s a testament to the quality of my blog, the content and most of all to you, the reader who value my opinion. I hope I continue to live up to your expectations.
When I was approached to apply as a Wildsider blogger, I knew that my particular niche of single parents was unique and that I connected well with many single parents. My travel experience to SeaWorld with my three children has been especially wonderful as a single parent. Part of the Wildside program includes events at SeaWorld San Antonio throughout the year. We get complimentary passes that allow us entrance into the park for the year. Over the weekend of 06/15 and 06/16, bloggers from within the Wildside program and other bloggers interested in learning more about tools to manage their blogs got to experience AdventureCon 2013. SeaWorld Aquatica AdventureCon 2013 is a blogging conference unlike no other as SeaWorld San Antonio puts on this conference and gathers the experts to teach workshops and offer advice about blogging, visual content, social media and more. As bloggers this means that we not only write posts about SeaWorld San Antonio but by engaging with the brand, we can see the direction that the brand wants to go with their social media presence and marketing. Engagement is so important for us to be able to also move our blogs to the next level whether that is a more professional, monetized model.
With a special rate at the Courtyard Marriott, bloggers and their families got to stay at a hotel that is not just a national brand with the Marriott name but it’s unique to San Antonio and partners with SeaWorld. The target market is mainly families and they have an array of activities such as pool parties that the whole family could enjoy. On the first night, those that attended AdventureCon got to attend a special family mixer and get photos taken with a special guest – Shamu. With our itineraries in hand and excited kids, the activities for the next day of AdventureCon kept all of us excited and eager to learn something new over the father’s day weekend. It was a busy weekend for bloggers and for families and I wish all conferences could integrate family members with family activities and blogger learning experiences.
Session 1 – Storytelling on the Go, Mobile Apps and Blogging
Presented by Magaly Chocano of SwebApps (on the right in photo above), I found this particular workshop to be very valuable. I learned a lot of different facts with regards to how the world is more mobile. Facts such as that 70% of all online searches made via a mobile device results in some kind of activity within an hour. I find this to be true. Just this weekend when I traveled from San Antonio to Lake Travis I was on my mobile device for everything from purchasing a spurs shirt for my dad on Father’s Day to finding a great sports bar in Lake Travis to watch the game. Nothing is more true and relevant about the influence that mobile has on our world and especially for bloggers. We learned the following things:
1) The difference between a mobile website and a native app
2) Native apps have push notifications and a more up close and personal engagement with the individual that downloads your app
3) Moving your blog to also become a mobile force is necessary to continue to engage your audience
Magaly created SwebApps to make mobile app development easy for anyone including businesses. I think as a blogger we should consider using this to create mobile apps not just for our sites but also for the clients that we manage. Just think of the value proposition to be able to offer this as an added value. In the next coming weeks I will be trying this out and doing a review of how easy it is. You can find Magaly on twitter at @sweb. While the bloggers were in a session, the families go to meet some animal friends and do a special father’s day craft for the dads in their lives. On such a humid day, having an activity for the kids indoors was welcomed by all the families. After that session we heard from Brian Carter, Director of Communications and Interactive Marketing at SeaWorld. He’s been at the forefront of the Wildside program and spearheads the amazing social media presence that exists today for the SeaWorld brand.
Lunch at Shamu’s Smokehouse and free time
After that first session, I had lunch with some fellow bloggers at Shamu’s Smokehouse. I was glad that as part of the conference I got complimentary food passes, because the Smokehouse gave a lot of food. Your BBQ favorites such as chicken, brisket, ribs and more filled up the plate. They also had some great desserts such as jello, pudding, cheesecake and then some.
Then I got to do something I hadn’t done in over 6 years. Since I did not have my children on this go around, I got to ride some roller coasters. Everything from the Great White to the Steel Eel had lines that were less than 5 minutes long. In the heat, we didn’t have to wait that long. I just rented a locker for a dollar and got on the rides. I really wanted to ride a roller coaster just to see that I hadn’t gotten too old to ride one. So it was exactly like I remembered it – a great thrill.
I’m a writer and not much of a photographer but I realize the importance of photography in blog posts and capturing the reader’s attention. In this special session we got to meet with R.C. Bob French- Official SeaWorld Photographer, Nan Palmero – a local photographer and Sarah Hubbell – Wildsider and photographer. Armed with an arsenal of tools, tips, resources and apps – the panel gave bloggers some great insight onto how to take better photos of your blogs.
They answered questions about creative commons licenses, attributions, watermarks and more. Then after the Q&A we went on a walk in the park. I got the opportunity to take a walk with Bob French of. I know nothing about photography and I don’t even have a fancy camera, but learning from a commercial photographer was a fantastic experience. He talked about visuals and geometry which I was able to utilize that day and get some great photos as I made my way to Lake Travis for an assignment. The SeaWorld San Antonio park has such a wide array of photography spots and what it really taught me was the importance of understanding what your content says and complimenting it with a great photo. I really enjoyed this workshop and I have a feeling that I’m getting the photography bug and will be seeking to upgrade my expertise in that area.
After the photowalk, we made our way back to the brand new Pets Ahoy show at the Sea Star Theater. This new, indoor live show features animals from the local animal shelter putting on performances and acting for the audience. The trainers were amazing and the animals were funny. The kids enjoyed the show very much.
This is Day one of SeaWorld Aquatica’s Adventure Con 13 and so far I can say that it is definitely worth the price of attending if you also get a chance to purchase tickets for your family. Make this a summer family vacation experience. Many of the bloggers were new and some were veterans so the small size of the group made it a valuable learning experience for all. Stay Tuned for Day 2 of Adventure Con 13. To get more information about SeaWorld, please visit their website.
Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador and part of the Wildsider program with Sea World Antonio. Promotional consideration in the form of complimentary passes to SeaWorld San Antonio were provided to me. All opinions are 100% my own.